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Elizabeth Cook to Stickyz 

WEDNESDAY 5/16

ELIZABETH COOK

9 p.m. Stickyz. $13.

Before a few days ago, I didn't know anything about Elizabeth Cook, but I do now and I'm here to tell you, this gal is a genu-wine country charmer and a fine singer and songwriter as well. She hails from the Sunshine State, but not from the Real Housewife-and Lamborghini-infested climes of Miami. No, she's from Wildwood, a "total pit cow-town; it's not like Disney World," she told Craig Ferguson. She got started playing music young, accompanying her parents. Her mother was a West Virginia native and a mandolin picker and guitarist and her daddy a musician and a welder by trade, one he learned while incarcerated for running moonshine. Her folks met after he'd served eight years. Cook moved to Nashville after college and wasted no time at all, releasing five albums, making hundreds of appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and hosting her own radio show, "Elizabeth Cook's Apron Strings," on SiriusXM's Outlaw Country channel. Her 2007 album "Balls" was a welcome shot of real country, sure to please everyone who prefers Dolly and Loretta over So-and-So or Whatshername or whoever's on top in the pop-oriented world of mainstream country. Those two legendary country ladies are name-checked in Cook's paean to working women, "Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman" (which, as certain Internet pundits have conjectured, is sure to be immortalized as a drag-show standard). Her latest long-player, 2010's "Welder," includes the playful "Snake in the Bed," and "Yes to Booty," but also takes some heart-wrenching turns with "Mama's Funeral," a tribute to her mother, and the lilting tale of "Heroin Addict Sister."

THURSDAY 5/17 AND FRIDAY 5/18

ARKANSAS NEW PLAY FEST 2012

7 p.m. Oxford American. $7 per reading, $20 full pass.

This marks the second year that The Arkansas Repertory Theatre has teamed up with TheatreSquared of Fayetteville to host a Central Arkansas production of The Arkansas New Play Fest (the Northwest Arkansas dates for the festival are May 18-20 at Nadine Baum Studios). "The collaboration is designed to introduce promising new works for the stage to audiences in Northwest and Central Arkansas and to encourage conversation about the themes of these new plays," according to TheatreSquared. This year's lineup includes readings of "Uprooted," a family drama by Clinnesha Dillon Sibley about a successful actress returning to her small hometown for her mother's funeral; "The Football Project," the story of a high school football team that becomes enmeshed in controversy and the reaction of the team's hometown, by Samuel Brett Williams; Robert Ford's "The Spiritualist," about a school cafeteria cook and self-proclaimed psychic who communes with dead composers; and "The Ballad of Rusty and Roy," the tale of two brothers — both musicians — whose careers follow different paths after they move to New York City, by Troy and Jonny Schremmer.

FRIDAY 5/18

WANDA JACKSON

8:30 p.m. Revolution. $15 adv., $20 d.o.s.

Back in 1954, when Hank Thompson heard that girl's singing coming over the radio there in Oklahoma, what must he have thought of that sassy voice, springing out of a singer who wasn't yet out of high school? What must the young men of the era have thought of the stunningly gorgeous belle who shook her hips and strummed a guitar, fringe and frills flailing, singing in that hiccupping, early rock 'n' roll style, "Don't stop, honey bop." Lord, have mercy. And then she went country. And then Christian. And then rockabilly revival. And then Jack White. And it was all good. What a career Wanda Jackson has had. Don't squander this opportunity to see a for-real living legend, one who still has it and is making good music now, more than five decades after getting her start.

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